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Concerns Raised For Space Station

by Susan R. Morrissey
April 2, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 14

Credit: NASA
Tip-to-tip, ISS is the length of a football field with end zones.
The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 7 a.m. (EST) on March 7, 2011. Discovery spent eight days, 16 hours, and 46 minutes attached to the orbiting laboratory.
Credit: NASA
Tip-to-tip, ISS is the length of a football field with end zones.

NASA needs to put plans in place to ensure that research will continue on the International Space Station (ISS), according to a House of Representatives panel. The Science, Space & Technology Committee held a hearing last week to ensure the U.S.’s multi-billion-dollar investment in ISS isn’t wasted. Currently the station, which was designated a national lab in 2005 and completed in 2011, is facing funding and accessibility constraints. The latter is of particular concern to the lawmakers as the retirement of the last space shuttle in July 2011 left the U.S. reliant on international partners—namely Russia and Europe—to send people and materials to low-Earth orbit. The station is to close in 2020. Thus, “we need to make sure that the eight years that remain until the current end of the ISS program are used effectively to answer the research and engineering questions that can only be answered on ISS,” says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), the panel’s top Democrat.


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